30. Chicago Bulls – This team is unquestionably NBA 2k garbage. If you are unfortunate enough to somehow end up playing with them, you may just lose to that friend that’s never played before. You know, that friend you let be the Warriors to be nice, but who ends up actually being pretty good for a rookie. Markkanen is literally the only decent player on the team. Once your opponent figures that out, he’s easy to shut down with double teams, leaving you with the likes of Zach Levine and the lesser Lopez twin as your best options. If you want a team that can’t pass, dribble, shoot or defend, the 2017 Bulls are perfect for you.
29. Sacramento Kings – I don’t know why, but I really thought they would be better. I was actually legitimately excited to play with this Kings team. Disappointment flooded my senses as De’ Aaron Fox had his fourth straight shot attempt blocked. He and George Hill (RIP on the Cavs now) were born too short for that 2k life. It’s impossible to tell whether you should start either, both, or neither of the two. They’re not good enough that you want to play them, and yet there are seemingly no better options. Cauley-Stein is a huge offensive liability. My only scoring came from posting up a surprisingly good Zach Randolph. In full desperation, I put in 41 year old Vince Carter to stem the bleeding. Hint — it didn’t work.
28. Brooklyn Nets — Another team that seems slightly better in theory than reality. Linn and Russell continue a theme from the Kings — 2 point guards that don’t play very well together, but are better than anyone from the bench. Mozgov is unsurprisingly pretty meh, and they don’t have much in the form of shooters. This team would be better off with Jay Z at the 4.
27. Atlanta Hawks – Schroder makes this team somewhat bearable. He at least provides some playmaking and pick and roll options. However, they, like many others at the bottom of this list, just don’t have the shooting and defense to keep up with the big boys. Playing Belinelli, Ilyasova, and John Collins helps, but 3 white guys simultaneously on the court is a recipe for disaster.
26. Indiana Pacers – Despite exceeding expectations in real life, this is one team everyone avoids in 2k. They have 9 decent players, making it impossible to figure out which combinations to use. One reason this team is so low — when the game is close, with one minute left, who do you go to? Oladipo? Thad Young? Saboner? Exactly.
25. Orlando Magic – Much like the Pacers, the Magic have been one of the surprisingly decent teams in this young NBA season. Also like the Pacers, they lack a true go-to star. Sure, Aaron Gordon can throw it down with the best of them. The rest of the starting bad aren’t bad, either. They’re just not good. If you match up a top 15 team with these guys, you’re F F F Fucked junior.
(Update — LOL at the Magic starting out the season decent. Look how that ended up)
24. Detroit Pistons – Andre Drummond and a whole lot of meh.
(Update — Andre Drummond, Blake Griffen and a whole lot of meh)
23. Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap are a pretty good pair down low. This team has about 5 guys that could fill the other 3 spots, none of which are that great. We’re finally approaching the part of the list you may actually want to consider playing as once in awhile.
22. Utah Jazz – These guys are at least interesting. Rubio can’t shoot for shit, but he can feed Gobert down low for some dunks. Gobert is also a monster shot blocker, anchoring a sneaky good defense. Bend that with a small ball lineup of Hood, Ingles and Joe Johnson and you’re in business.
21. Phoenix Suns – Devin Booker is an excellent 2k player. He can shoot from anywhere, make plays, and has just enough size to finish down low. The rest of this team, however, makes me want to take a shower after playing. I actually somehow like this team a little better without Eric Bledsoe. He made me force up bad shots because I keep thinking Eric Bledsoe is good at basketball, despite all evidence pointing to the contrary. Long story short, they’re a fun team to play with in a pinch.
20. LA Lakers – 2k, Madden, and all sports games have a habit of overrating hyped-up rookies and past-their-prime superstars. Players like Allen Iverson, Shaq and Kobe were impossible to defend years after their decline, and Greg Oden could block any shot in 2k8 despite always being injured. Things haven’t changed much. I can put up a 30 and 10 with Lonzo almost any game, and swear Dwight Howard is still a beast in this one (more on that later). The Lakers are a fun, if not great, team to play with.
19. Dallas Mavericks – Dirk is another great example of past success feeding current 2k ability (2kability?). He can post-up and shoot fadeaway jump shots with the best of them. Dennis Smith Jr., Wes Matthews and Harrison Barnes provide a solid, if uninspired, supporting cast. I wouldn’t go out of my way to play with this team, but will take them if I must.
18. Memphis Grizzlies – I never play with this team unless I have to. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and a big pile of “I want to light this X-Box on fire.”
17. LA Clippers – These Clips are exactly what they are in real life. Blake and DeAndre just don’t seem to mesh, Lou Williams can make or break your game, and Danilo Gallinari has disappeared from the face of the Earth. Even electronic Doc Rivers would rather be golfing than coaching this team.
16. Miami Heat – I wanted to put these guys higher, I really did. They are good, anchored by a Whiteside, Dragic, and Waiters combo. They’re just far too inconsisten and lacking a 3/4 to crack the top 15.
15. Charlotte Hornets – I bet you were expecting the Hornets to be ranked much lower. This is the beauty of 2k rankings vs. real world. In real life, Dwight Howard is a washed up, shell of his former glory. In 2k, he can regularly put up 25 and 15 with 4 blocks. Kemba can dribble anywhere he wants and makes big plays in the clutch. Monk gives them shooting. Add in Batum (sneaky good) and Lamb/Kaminsky and you’re in business. I challenge you to play as the Charlotte Hornets and tell me they’re not good to my face.
14. NY Knickerbockers – PorzinGod alone jumps this team up 12 spots. He really can do it all. He and Kanter are a formidable front court. Meanwhile, I gotta say, I really like playing as Tim Hardaway Jr. He’s an athletic shooter that makes plays and can run the offense. Whew, I’m glad I got that off my chest.
13. Milwaukee Bucks – This is a tricky one. The Greek Freak is very good, but not quite as good as he is in real life. He has a D+ 3 point rating, and a tendency to miss some easy shots. He’s like Lebron used to be, where you just have to charge to the rim and dunk every time you want to score. He’s surrounded by shooters, but still needs to be the vocal point of the offense at all times. I enjoy this team, but would stay away against the top teams.
12. Portland Trail Blazers – Dame Lilliard is a 2k God. He has the ability to hit any shot, any where, any time. McCollum, on the other hand, is just average compared to real life. Same with Nurkic. A fun team, but could just as easily fall a couple spots outside of the top 15.
11. Washington Wizards – Again, two great guards, not much else. The difference here is John Wall. He’s so physically superior to any point guard outside of Russ Westbrook it puts them all to shame. Beal is a great 3 point shooter, and the rest of the team…Well, as Bill Belicheck says, just do your job.
10. Toronto Raptors – This has been a controversially good/bad team over the last couple of years. Kyle Lowry sufferes from the same bias bestowed upon short players in 2k for generations. That is, they allow his shots to be blocked far too easily in the paint. When your best player can’t score in the paint, that’s a problem. When your second best player (DeRozan)can’t shoot 3’s, that’s also a problem. The saving grace for the Raptors is a very good, if not great, 1-5. Valanciunas, Ibaka and CJ Miles give them just enough length, versatility, and shooting to be a very dangerous 2k team. If Lowry could just finish down low, they’d be top 5.
9. New Orleans Pelicans – Davis and Boogie, Boogie and Davis. These two alone make this a far better 2k team than they are in reality. Sprinkle in a dash of Jrue Holiday and one almost forgets they have to play either Jameer Nelson or Rajon Rondo at point guard in the year 2017.
8. Philadelphia 76ers – I can’t begin to explain the joy I get from shooting 3’s and blocking shots as Joel Embiid. I hear there’s even a cheat code to troll other players on Twitter at halftime. Paired with Ben Simmons, the duo are pure 2k joy. Redick and Covington give this team enough shooting to crack my top 10. If Fultz ends up being good someday, watch out.
7. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are getting harder to play with by the year. Parker and Ginobli are fading fast, yet Patty Mills and Danny Green aren’t exactly killer replacements in 2k. Kawhi covers up many of this teams’ inefficiencies, and Aldridge is still a good enough 2k player. I don’t jump to pick this team, yet confusingly still fear playing against them.
6. Boston Celtics – The defense this team plays in real life cannot be replicated in 2k. Neither can its ball movement. I find myself relying far too much on Kyrie to do everything for them. Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum will be much better in future releases, but just aren’t there yet. I anticipate they’ll be a top 3 team to play with in short order.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Teague is a hugely underrated 2k player. As a point guard, his shooting, passing and athleticism is all you can ask for. Butler and Wiggins are a good, frustratingly not great, duo, and Taj Gibson is the perfect 4 for this team. The true difference maker, of course, is Karl Anthony Towns. He’s perhaps the best rebounder in the game, he can score from anywhere (pro-tip: post-up with him all day), and blocks all that weak shit down low. Don’t sleep on the T-Wolves here.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Lebrons team, at 4?! BLASPHEMY!! I know, I know. Lebron is still as superhuman in this game as he’s ever been. But fuck are his teammates bad. It’s so difficult to decide who to play. D-Wade at the 2, or J.R.? Crowder or Korver? K-Love at the 4 or 5? Do D-Rose and Tristan Thompson even sniff the court? With all those question marks, it’s hard to consistently beat the top 3 teams with Lebron’s current cast.
3. OKC Thunder – The starting 4/5 of this team is tremendous. Westbrook, PG-13, Carmelo and Steven Adams are as good as any. They do have a hole at the 2, but Roberson/Abrines can do just enough to cover it. They are a tough out for anyone, but still don’t quite have he shooting power of the final two teams.
2. Houston Rockets – James Harden is the best player in 2k18. There, I said it. He very narrowly edges out Kevin Durant and Lebron for that honorable distinction. I would rank them top 5 without CP3, but they are great with him. Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, and Clint Capela give this team a touch of everything as you easily put up 40 points per game with Harden.
1. Golden State Waaaarriorrrss – This behemoth just can’t be touched, in reality or otherwise. They have the second best player in the game. They can out-shoot anyone. They play great defense. Just when you think you’re hanging close with them, they fire away a 3 point shooting barrage on you and suddenly you’re down by 20, hopeless. I’ve even thrown historical teams against them a long with the greatest MJ and Shaq/Kobe teams. There was, however, one team I can consistently beat them with. It was…drumroll…the 07′-08′ Houston Rockets!! Shout out to Yao Ming and a still good T-Mac! But alas, their time has passed, and this Warriors team reigns supreme. A poetic finish to a less than poetic ranking of fictional teams.
If you’ve made it this far, I suggest you find a good book and therapist.